The new Western Sydney Airport rail link to St Marys station will move 7,740 commuters an hour in each direction, the NSW government has revealed.
However, its development will require the 28 properties to be compulsorily purchased, and a further 33 partially acquired, while nearby residents have been warned to expect “temporarily high” noise from concrete saws, hydraulic hammers and bulldozers.
The $11 billion ‘Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport’ line will consist of six metro stations, two of which will be within the airport’s boundaries at the terminal and the business park.
Construction will begin this year after the federal government announced it would tip $5.25 billion into the project, which is also funded by NSW.
“Trains will arrive up to every five minutes in the peak period in each direction as the initial operating capacity so customers won’t need a timetable – they’ll just turn up and go,” NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
Upon completion, up to 12 train will run per hour during peak time, with the capacity for that to increase to 20.
However, residents in St Marys, Claremont Meadows, Orchard Hills, Luddenham and Bringelly have all been warned they will hear the sound of “noise intensive equipment”, according to a new environmental impact statement.
The tunnels will at points run as shallow as 15 metres below ground and will require the clearing of an area in the threatened Cumberland Plain Woodland.
The news of the forced home purchases comes amid the increasing fallout from the revelation that the government bought land next to Western Sydney Airport for 10 times as much as its actual value.
In September, it emerged the Commonwealth bought the 12.26 hectares at Bringelly off Leppington Pastoral Company for almost $30 million in July 2018, which is eventually planned to be used for the airport’s second runway.
However, less than a year later, the federal Department of Infrastructure’s accounts showed it actually valued the land at $3.065 million, or a tenth of the price.
It also subsequently transpired that NSW had paid 22 times less per hectare for a 1.36-hectare slice of the so-called ‘Leppington triangle’.
Earlier this week, the head of Australia’s Infrastructure Department even indicated public servants may have attempted to cover up the purchase.
Appearing before a Senate estimates hearing on Monday, Labor senator Penny Wong told Simon Atkinson it looked as if someone was trying to cover up details.
“Senator, I agree with you,” Atkinson replied. “I’m trying to clean it up.”
Atkinson joined long after the incident took place and said he had ordered two internal inquiries into possible breaches of the public service code of conduct.
“I want to get to the bottom of what happened, which is why I’ve pulled in an independent auditor of my own so that I can get to the bottom of the facts,” he said.
He also said he referred the matter to the police, but was told an investigation was already underway.
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